Many students feel apprehension as college graduation approaches, particularly about the hunt for full-time employment. Students in the experience design and management (ExDM) program at the BYU Marriott School of Business are no exception. To help ease students’ stress, ExDM faculty added a new section to its ExDM 490R: Topics in Experience Design and Management course during the winter 2022 semester, a section that was so successful that the department plans on turning it into a new course.
The idea for the professional prep section was proposed by Noelani Wayas, ExDM career advisor at BYU Marriott’s Steven and Georgia White Business Career Center (BCC). In her role with the BCC, Wayas advises ExDM students who are looking for internships and jobs. She noticed many students had the same questions and worries, and she thought a class could address those concerns.
“I wanted to help students feel less anxious about career placement,” explains Wayas, who teaches the new section. “I wanted them to feel confident, ready to pitch their unique value, and comfortable with the job-search process and transition into their careers.” After Wayas presented her idea to ExDM faculty leadership in 2021, she was authorized to begin teaching the section for the first time during the winter 2022 semester.
Wayas commends the ExDM faculty members’ focus on student experience and appreciates their willingness to support the proposal. The department had been aware of the need to improve career preparation and was thrilled with Wayas’s proposal. “The ExDM faculty members understand the importance of connecting curriculum to career. They are intentional about developing curriculum and successfully placing students in jobs after graduation,” Wayas says.
In order to meet the goal of supporting students in their job hunts, Wayas asks her students to complete a variety of experiential learning activities. These activities include mock job interviews, résumé reviews, personal strength analyses, networking activities, professional etiquette lessons, and more. Andrew Brindley, a junior in the class from St. George, Utah, says the activities teach him how to use his ExDM degree after graduation. “What I am learning in the professional prep section helps me understand how I can communicate the value I offer to employers and how the skills I learn in the ExDM program translate into business settings,” he explains.
In addition to having her own lesson plans, Wayas also solicits feedback from students so she can focus on what they want to work on. Wayas hopes that as students design their own curriculum, they will be less stressed about the future because she can directly address their concerns. “Looking for internships and jobs is definitely an overwhelming experience because so many jobs exist,” Brindley says. “This class has reassured me and helped me become better at finding jobs and creating résumés and cover letters.”
As the semester winds down, ExDM faculty are thrilled with the impact of the professional prep section, saying it exceeded expectations. In fact, the results were so beneficial that moving forward the section will be a standalone course: ExDM 495: Professional Preparation in Experience Design and Management. The course will be part of the required core classes for all ExDM students during the winter semester of their junior year.
“I am excited about this course because it will help students make more concrete connections between academic content and the job market,” says Neil Lundberg, ExDM department chair. “As a faculty, we are so pleased with Noelani and the work she's doing to help students be ready to take the next step in their professional preparation and personal lives. We couldn’t be happier with how she’s helping our students.”
Writer: Mike Miller